Research Technician Fellowship

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Are you an undergraduate or high school student over the age of 16 interested in experiencing scientific research and tree science?

Are you excited to learn new skills while getting paid?

Are you worried about applying because you don’t have any experience?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, this introductory internship is for you. Undergraduate and high school students over the age of 16, with little or no experience, are invited to participate in ongoing research at The Morton Arboretum, be mentored by our scientists, and see what it’s like to join a scientific research group. Experience careers that explore solutions for climate change, biodiversity, natural resources management, and urban life. Laboratory, computer, and outdoor field opportunities available.


Applications are now being accepted for the 2024–2025 school year.

Please contact with any questions or to be notified when applications open for the next Research Technician Fellowship opportunity.

Learn More

The Center for Tree Science’s Integrated Mentorship Program is committed to supporting students and professionals at every stage in their careers. As the Arboretum continues to grow a diverse and inclusive program, flexible work assignments and additional assistance may be available.

Individuals from schools and universities with limited research opportunities, groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM programs, first- and second-year undergraduates, persons with disabilities, and veterans currently enrolled in an undergraduate program are encouraged to apply.

Please contact with any questions or to be notified when applications open for the next Research Technician Fellowship opportunity.

Project Descriptions

2024–2025 School Year


Herbarium and Plant Systematics (part-time, September 2024–May 2025)

The Morton Arboretum Herbarium houses more than 190,000 dried plant specimens and 18,000 lichens, many from Illinois and Missouri. Research being conducted in the Herbarium and Plant Systematics Lab focuses on the diversification and evolution of plant lineages. It employs the tools of molecular phylogenetics, phylogenomics, morphometrics, population genetics, and field ecology to address basic questions about patterns of plant biodiversity: How many species are there? How are they delimited and identified? How are they related and how strong are the barriers to gene flow between species?

The student will join The Morton Arboretum’s Herbarium and Plant Systematics Laboratory, assisting in aspects of specimen processing in the herbarium and various projects as needed. Activities in specimen processing may include collecting and pressing plants, label making/clean-up, mounting specimens, accessioning, data entry and/or proofreading, filing, and imaging. The student will obtain broad training in herbarium collection work while serving as an active member of the Herbarium and Systematics Laboratory.


Forest Ecology Lab (part-time, September 2024–May 2025)

Trees at The Morton Arboretum record and preserve decades to centuries of information on growth responses to environmental conditions in their annual rings. In collaboration with the Herbarium, we are forming a formal archival collection of wood cross-sections so that comparative research on growth trends and wood anatomy can be performed while leveraging the wealth of information and extended records (e.g. Herbarium collections, BRAHMS online living collections database) that is truly unique to The Morton Arboretum. Student interns will assist with the full cycle of collections development and curation, including specimen cataloging, sample preparation, dendrochronological analysis, and digitization.

Special considerations: Interns must be able to lift 30+ pounds assisted (15 pounds unassisted) and must be comfortable using power tools, including belt sanders and potentially saws (after training). Applicants do not need to know how to use these tools already, but must not be afraid to learn. Applicants must also be able to wear an N95 mask respirator and pass a respirator physical.


Root Biology Lab (part-time, September 2024–May 2025)

Trees are complex organisms that must integrate strategies for growth and stress tolerance both above- and below-ground. It is this below-ground component that is least understood, and work in our group focuses on below-ground ecology and linking root and fungal processes for whole-tree success in both unmanaged and urban ecosystems. We use a diverse set of tools and approaches to do this. As such, the successful candidate should be comfortable with field, lab, and computer-based work.

Responsibilities will vary over time, but will likely include assisting with field work to monitor leaf, stem, root, and soil fungal growth as well as lab work processing soil samples and extracting DNA, and computer-based work analyzing patterns of fungal growth over time. The balance of time with each component will depend partly on the candidate’s interests and learning goals, but will certainly include exposure to multiple research tools and techniques. Specific techniques can be learned on the job but the candidate must be willing and excited to engage in new experiences and training.